A Sense for Murder


A Sense for Murder (A Sally Solari Mystery)
by Leslie Karst

About A Sense for Murder


A Sense for Murder (A Sally Solari Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Setting – California
Severn House (August 1, 2023)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1448309050
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1448309054
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BXPY61Q1



Chef Sally Solari has – to her own bewilderment – built a reputation as a talented sleuth who keeps tripping over dead bodies. But getting mixed up in the curious case of a cookbook killer threatens to be the final chapter in not just her investigating career . . . but her life.

It’s the height of the tourist season in Santa Cruz, California, and Sally Solari has her hands full, both juggling crowds of hungry diners at her French-Polynesian restaurant Gauguin, as well as appeasing her father, who’s distressed at the number of homeless people camped out in front of Solari’s, the family’s Italian seafood restaurant out on the historic fisherman’s wharf.

Nevertheless, when Sally gets the opportunity to volunteer at a farm-to-table dinner taking place at the hip new restaurant and culinary bookshop Pages and Plums, she seizes the chance. Not only is it a fundraiser for an organization aiding the homeless and seniors, but up for auction at the event is a signed boxset of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Sally’s hero, the renowned chef Julia Child.

But then the Pages and Plums dining room manager turns up dead – the locked cabinet containing the precious books now empty – and the irrepressible Sally once again finds herself up to her neck in a criminal investigation. She may have a sense for murder, but can Sally outwit a devious killer with a taste for French cooking before the villain makes mincemeat of her, too?

A Sense for Murder is a fast-paced, super fun culinary cozy mystery that will have your brain working and your mouth watering. And if you haven’t met sleuthing chef Sally yet, it’s safe to jump right in.

Read an Excerpt

If not for the clatter of my bicycle bouncing down the wooden planks of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, I felt certain that every tourist I whizzed past would have been startled by the loud rumblings emanating from my empty stomach.

I’d set off on my morning ride with only a cup of coffee for sustenance, and the effects of the initial caffeine buzz had now been replaced by a severe case of low blood sugar. As a result (notwithstanding the million-dollar view of the historic fisherman’s wharf stretching out from the sparkling beach and the iconic roller coaster rising up behind), the only thing on my mind at that moment was the prospect of biting into one of my father’s famous ricotta-and-mascarpone-filled cannoli.

I spotted Dad’s tall, stocky figure standing in front of Solari’s Restaurant as soon as I rounded the bend near the end of the wharf. He was turned toward me, waving, so I waved back, then quickly grabbed hold of my handlebars as I hit a nasty bump in the road. Once closer, however, I realized he wasn’t waving at me. He hadn’t even noticed my arrival. Rather, he was shouting and gesticulating at a form sprawled on the sidewalk at the corner of the building.

‘Why the hell do you insist on camping out here?’ I heard him yell as I approached. ‘You and your kind are driving away my business!’

Wheeling up to the front entrance, I clipped out of my pedals and leaned my red-and-white road bike against the restaurant’s whitewashed wood siding. Through the neon Budweiser and Amstel Light signs hanging in the window above, I could see a table of early lunchers chowing down on plates of crab salads and linguine.

‘Hey, Dad. What’s going on?’

‘Sally.’ He turned to me with a frown. ‘I didn’t hear you ride up.’

‘Probably because you were making quite a bit of racket yourself.’

The person at his feet – a thin, gray-haired man wrapped in a dark green sleeping bag – pushed himself to an upright position and regarded the two of us with dull eyes. A fat seagull pecked at a discarded French fry not three feet from where he sat.

Dad returned the man’s gaze with an angry stare. ‘I’ve been trying for five full minutes to get this guy to move his sorry ass away from my restaurant, but he pretends like he doesn’t even hear me. Maybe I should just call the cops on you,’ he said to the cocooned man, ‘and let them deal with it.’

‘Maybe if you tried treating him like a human being, your powers of persuasion would be a little more effective,’ I responded. ‘I mean, really: “you and your kind”?’ But my father merely shook his head and turned to walk back inside Solari’s, clearly now annoyed not only with the guy in the sleeping bag but also his only daughter.


About Leslie Karst

Leslie Karst is the author of the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari mystery series and Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG. After years waiting tables and singing in a new wave rock band, she decided she was ready for a “real” job and ended up at Stanford Law School. It was during her career as an attorney that Leslie rediscovered her youthful passion for food and cooking and once more returned to school—this time to earn a degree in culinary arts. Now retired from the law, Leslie spends her time cooking, cycling, gardening, observing cocktail hour promptly at five o’clock, and of course writing. She and her wife split their time between Santa Cruz, California, and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Q&A With the Author: Leslie Karst

A Sense for Murder, a Sally Solari Mystery

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The food scenes! I love writing about food almost as much as eating it—and I can tell you that I get mighty hungry as I describe all the scrumptious dishes that Sally and others prepare and consume throughout the story. For each book in the series, I consult charts regarding what fruits, vegetables, and seafood are available that time of year, and then brainstorm recipes and dishes appropriate to the season, which is great fun. But then I have to concoct actual recipes for those dishes—which for this seat-of-the-pants cook, is much, much harder....

Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?

I have a new non-mystery book which was published a few months ago called Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG.

In this memoir, which has been described as a true-life Julie and Julia meets Notorious RBG mash-up, I recount how finagling my way into hosting an intimate dinner party for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent me on a journey of culinary discovery—and, ultimately, completely changed my life. 

Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?

I have a brand new series debuting this April—the Orchid Isle Mysteries, set in Hawai‘i, where I live half time. In the first book, Molten Death, Valerie Corbin, a retired caterer, comes to the Big Island with her wife Kristen in search of rest and recreation following the loss of her brother and her own brush with death. Then Kristen’s surfing buddy, tattooed local boy Isaac, suggests something far more exciting than merely hanging out on the beach: a hike out to the active volcanic flow. But when Valerie alone witnesses a body being blanketed by the hot lava and no one else believes her, she becomes consumed by the mystery of the body in the lava, determined to discover what happened. Thrown into a Hawaiian culture far from the luaus and tiki bars of glossy tourist magazines, Valerie soon begins to fear she may be the next one to end up entombed in shiny black rock. 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing extensively for years—first, with term papers in high school, later drafting literary criticism as an English major in college. But it wasn’t until after receiving my undergraduate degree, when I started a New Wave rock band and began penning songs for the group, that writing became a true vocation for me. Each song was a little story—one of heartbreak or mystery or undying love—so much more fun than cranking out dry essays about the use of figurative language in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales! It took over twenty more years (during which, as an attorney, I found myself writing dry, legal briefs), but I was eventually able to go back to stories and pursue my dream of writing fiction, and began work on what would become Dying for a Taste, the first novel in my Sally Solari culinary mystery series. 

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Just how very much I—along with all my other fellow mystery authors—truly appreciate you. For without readers, we’d have no one to write for! So thank you for buying our books or checking them out from the library, for reading them and talking them up to your friends, for sending us emails and letters, and for writing reviews! You are our heroes!

Author Links

Website http://www.lesliekarstauthor.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lesliekarstauthor/

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/leslie-karst

GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14220589.Leslie_Karst

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lesliekarst/

Twitter https://twitter.com/LeslieKarst

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NBookshop.org


July 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 25 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR GUEST POST

July 26 – Novels Alive – REVIEW – SPOTLIGHT

July 26 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

July 27 – The Mystery of Writing – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

July 27 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

July 28 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

July 28 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR GUEST POST

July 29 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

July 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT


July 31 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 1 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 1 – Carstairs Considers – REVIEW

August 2 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW, RECIPE

August 2 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 3 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT

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